Ministers have revealed plans for £6bn of funding for regions to invest in housing, transport infrastructure, faster broadband and skills training.
Prime minister David Cameron said allocating the money to councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) was about ‘firing up’ the country’s cites, town and counties.
The investment - including £2bn from the Local Growth Fund – will cover projects in the six years from 2015/16. It is expected this first wave of local agreements will lead to work on over 150 roads, 150 housing developments and 20 railway stations.
Lord Heseltine – whose No Stone Unturned report was fundamental in creation of the Local Growth Fund – described today’s announcement as ‘a giant step in the rebalancing of our economy’.
Leeds City Region was awarded what is thought to be the largest sum announced today, securing £572.9m for the six years following 2015/16.
As part of the £476.7m allocated to Greater Manchester, some £50m will be used to revamp the local transport networks – including a £18m investment in the Metrolink system.
Some £55m was also provided for London’s Skills Capital programme, which is expected to help create the specific skills required by local businesses.
Projects beginning in 2015 to 2016 will have to be matched by local investment worth around twice the central government contribution.
Cameron said: ‘For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth deals will help change all that. They are about firing up our great cities, towns and counties so they can become powerhouses.’
Deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who also chairs the Local Growth Cabinet Committee, said: ‘We are ending a culture of Whitehall knows best. Decisions over spending on infrastructure, business support and housing are being made at a truly local level.’
Greg Clark, minister for cities, said: ‘Today is the day when we back local leaders to create jobs and prosperity in their area.’